May 29th, 2017
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
rydra_wong: Nichole watches TV: "My name is John Dean III and I want to spill my guts out." "Proceed." (john dean III -- watergate)
Via [personal profile] robynbender, via [ profile] kristoncapps:

This useful cheat-sheet provided by Art Buchwald in the LA Times in 1973

tag yourself I'm a "paranoid John Dean believer"

Some kind person needs to re-make this as a bingo card. I believe it will come in handy.
posted by [syndicated profile] crpgaddict_feed at 01:44pm on 29/05/2017

Posted by CRPG Addict

United States
Independently developed; distributed via mail order by PC-SIG
Released in 1987 for DOS
Date Started:  8 November 2010
Date Ended: 28 May 2017
Total Hours: 4
Difficulty: Easy (2/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at Time of Posting: (to come later) 
Braminar is a game that invites us to consider the nature of choice in an RPG. At first look, we are tempted to call it "primitive" because most of its options are simple "Yes/No"--a style that its manual calls "Boolean Interactive Fiction." But then you consider a game like Ultima in which you, say, exit a king's castle, walk a bit to the east and then to the north, and enter a dungeon. During that trip, you have the ability to go north, east, south, or west, but you don't, because other than the dungeon there really isn't any place to go. Braminar would cut out the middle man by having an option to "Enter the dungeon? (Y/N)" immediately upon exiting the castle. Do we really lose anything with such greater efficiency? Are all of the other options offered by Ultima truly "options" if they wouldn't have resulted in anything productive?
Braminar's title screen.
We could say the same about combat. I claim to like "tactics," and I do, but in this era, all combats occur in a closed system, and despite the myriad combat actions and spells that the games give you, there's usually one clear "best" path that still involves a fair amount of random luck. Is a game truly more "tactical" because you can "power attack," "regular attack," or "defend" instead of just "attack"? Until we enter the era in which game physics allow possibilities that even the developer couldn't anticipate, aren't "tactics" really just an illusion? Why not just let the computer slug it out and get it over with?
Reading combat results is almost as fun as participating!
There are good counters to these points, largely having to do with enjoying the journey rather than jumping to the destination, but Braminar at least effectively raises the questions. It doesn't do much else because the game really sucks and getting me to replay it was the greatest prank the commenters on my original Braminar post ever pulled. But it did make me think about these issues for about 20 seconds.
A Braminar character towards the end of the game.
Braminar takes place in a kingdom of the same name, where an "evil overlord" has "raised taxes, enslaved villages, and outlawed hamburgers." The player "plays" a warrior who sets out to raise an army and overthrow the overlord. To do this, he has to raise his own character level to 20, find the Staff of Aviatar, learn the staff's "prime command," and amass enough resources in gold, slaves, and weapons that his army poses a serious challenge to the overlord.
"Character creation."
The player chooses a name and sex during character creation, but everything else is random, including starting gold and hit points, starting "mecidine," the cost of male and female slaves, hair color, and whether the player has "good looks." From there, the random encounters start coming.

  • You come up to a hollow tree with a door. Enter? (Y/N) 
  • You come upon an enchanted forest. Enter? (Y/N)
  • You find a statue of Pan. Approach the statue? (Y/N)
  • You come upon a grass hut. You hear sounds from within. Will you enter? (Y/N)
  • While you are walking along, the weather suddenly changes. A tornado comes. Will you take shelter? (Y/N)
  • You come upon a city. Do you want to enter? (Y/N)
  • Do you want to go to the slave market? (Y/N)
  • Sell slaves? (Y/N)
  • Things seem strangely quite [sic] when out of no where [sic] jumps A [sic] band of orcs. They look grumpy. They say they will let you pass if you give them 7 male slaves, 6 female slaves, and 4 gold pieces. Or you may fight their champ, and win their horde [sic]. Do you wish to (F)ight, (G)ive, or (R)un?

In between these turns, the game keeps you constantly updated with your current statistics and status. You can't save the game; it's meant to be played and won within an hour or so.
While there are no tactics during these options, experience does teach you which options lead to what sorts of encounters. You always want to seek shelter during weather events, or you lose slaves and food. Hollow trees with doors might be occupied by friendly gnomes or vacant. If vacant, they tempt you to steal food or a chest, but about 1/3 of the time, your god is watching and punishes you by lowering you a level if you steal and rewards you with something if you just leave.
For doing a good deed, my diety [sic] gives me a box of Duncin' [sic] Doughnuts [sic].
Gazing into a river leads you to find an item or fight an encounter with monsters. The "winding mountain path" always leads to a guru who asks if you "seek powers of good." If so, he zaps away both your enchanted ring and staff (more below). The gypsy camp is a waste of time that at best lets you win a knife game with 50/50 odds. Grass huts usually have a helpless puppy or a sick man inside, allowing you to please your god by tending to them. Thickets almost always lead to combats and a nice haul of slaves and gold if you win. The Dark Castle of the Mad King always leads to three options: a dungeon where you can find a few gold pieces, a throne room where you can try to steal gold, and a "gallery" where you might find an artifact item and always find some food. The throne room option offers a kind of "quick time event" where you have to enter a combination of unfamiliar keys to simulate stealing gold.

Once you have a little experience, the game becomes relatively easy, and I can't believe I didn't at least pursue it to the finish line in 2010. Combats, though entirely random, almost always end in the player's victory and the accumulation of levels. Exceptions occur with dragons and demons. For them, you want to have found some poison; if you have poison, the game always offers it as a pre-combat option for an instant win.
Killing Cerberus with poison. My god is impressed.
You gather slaves from victories and (if you want) from buying them in the slave market. They're nearly impossible to keep fed, so if you have more than a couple of dozen, you almost inevitably get a message every round saying that some of your slaves have died from hunger. They also die from diseases unless you keep a stock of expensive medicine to cure them. There are no in-game consequences to letting your slaves die, but it's generally best to just sell them all every time you enter a town or village, at least until you near the endgame.
"Enchanted forest" visits rarely go badly.
Every time you stumble upon a city or town, you want to visit the bar and have a drink, which has a chance of increasing your hit points, and also rest in the inn in the finest bed, which restores some of the hit points you may have lost in combats. (I never once had any success socializing in the bar despite my "good looks.") You have the option to purchase swords, daggers, bows, arrows, horses, and carts in towns, but as the options are always (Y/N), you can only buy one each per visit. Encounters with rust monsters destroy your accumulated swords and daggers, and encounters with dark elves warp your accumulated arrows and bows. I'm not sure if any of these things really make a difference in combat anyway. 
Buying things one-at-a-time in town.
Finding the artifacts necessary for the endgame isn't very hard; you almost always encounter them in the gallery of the Dark Castle of the Mad King or by gazing into a river. A little harder is getting the word of activation for the Staff of the Aviatar. You have to successfully answer a riddle from a Statue of Pan, but the riddles are always nonsense and the "correct" answer is simply randomized. 
Neither the riddle nor any of its answers make any sense.
None of this sounds horrible, and I would agree that perhaps a compelling game could be made with this approach. Unfortunately, Braminar isn't it. It's humor is just groan-worthy, not actually funny. The game is riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes. The encounter types are too few, too repetitive, and too predictable. What happens in the game is mostly random, not a product of intelligence, strategy, or role-playing.
This is supposed to be funny, I guess. I just don't know how.
But it was pretty pathetic that I didn't win it the first time. To win, you simply have to find the Overlord's Keep after achieving Level 20 and finding at least the Staff of the Aviatar. Two optional artifacts are the Talisman of Braminar and a magic ring. You're almost certain to find the Talisman during the game, and there's no way to drop it, so it would be tough to reach the end without it. The ring--which during the game automatically destroys the evil wizard Anthrax--can't be dropped, but it can be removed from you via the "mountain path" encounter. Unfortunately, that same encounter also removes the staff. So if you want to reach the endgame without the ring, and get the "best" ending, you have to find or re-find the staff and then find the Overlord's Keep before finding or re-finding the ring.
The ring is useful in an encounter with Antrax.
Once you reach the keep and invoke the Staff of the Aviatar, all of your resources--slaves, gold, weapons--are converted to a generic "army strength" and then pitted against the overlord's. You then sit there for a few minutes and watch the two armies battle, with occasional messages like "the enemy uses a magical weapon against you" or "your soldiers are high on moral!" [sic] flashing at the top of the screen.
This author Has an interesting relationship With capitalization.
Assuming that your party wins, you then find yourself in one-on-one combat with the overlord, but he dies immediately if you have the Talisman. I'm not sure what happens if you don't have the Talisman as I was unable to make it to the end without finding it.

Braminar is famous for sending the winning screen to the printer at this point, but that only happens if you lack the magic ring and thus get the "good" ending. If you have the ring, the "bad" ending is displayed on screen: the Ring of Doom takes over your mind, bends it to cruelty, and causes you to become the very overlord that you just defeated.
The "bad" ending of the game, although with this game, no ending is truly "bad."
But yes, if you managed to get rid of the Ring of Doom, you'd better hope that you configured LPT1 correctly, because that's the only way that you see your final statistics and learn that you are now the new King of Braminar and that someone has passive-voice gifted you with the Wand of Wonder, whatever that is.
The game inoffensively passes an afternoon, but when someone writes to me that "this is actually one of my favorite PC games of all time; I played it daily for about two years when I was six or seven, and still play it every now and then today...It's an amazing game and I expect to play it for a long time still to come," I have to believe he's trolling because otherwise my heart would break. Meeting the bare minimum requirements to even be considered an RPG, it earns only 13 points on my GIMLET.

The name of Braminar's author seems to have been lost to the ages, although the documentation that comes with the game mentions previous Boolean Interactive Fiction games called Fantasia, Universe, and Astroman; whether these are from the same author is uncertain.

I'm not sure if Braminar was ever distributed by itself. The only distribution I can find for sure was via shovelware disk called Adventure Addiction offered in the PC-SIG catalog (a company that published independent or "shareware" titles), where it was packaged with titles like Under the Ice (a text adventure on a submarine), Quest of Kukulcan ("an Indiana Jones-type adventure"), Gymnasium Adventure, and Palace Adventure. Braminar is marketed here as a "Fantasia-type adventure," so its predecessor must have been better known at some point. I'm afraid the phrase "Boolean Interactive Fiction" never took off, either; Googling it returns only results for Braminar.

Thus we see that not every game I abandoned in 2010 was a gem that deserves to be revisited. Let's take a look at what else 1987 was offering with Deathlord.

solarbird: (tracer)

"Good evening, Winston," said the elder assassin.

"Widowmaker," said the ape, grimly, with a three second delay. "I see you have acquired Lena's prefix code."

"Thank you for responding," she said. "We have not talked in some time."

"Using Lena's code set will get my attention. Does she still have access to it too?"

The spider smiled wanly and leaned out of the way. Lena popped into view, "Hiya, big guy! It's okay, I'm here, she's using my kit."

Winston blinked confusedly. "oh! Hello! Where have you been? I hadn't heard from you in a few weeks, and then I heard about London. What exactly happened?"

"I'll tell you tomorrow, now that I don't have MI5 watching my every breath. It'll be a lot easier to get ahold of you from now on! But Amélie needs to talk to you alone, and I wanted to make sure you'd answer, so... hear her out, will ya? For me?"

Winston did not look pleased by the request. "I... what's this all about?"

this is a long one )
Mood:: 'quiet' quiet

Posted by Christopher Jobson

La Cuccanga, 2017

From climate change to capitalism run amok, street artist Blu (previously) pulls no punches in his soaring multi-story murals on the streets of Italy. While mixed with a healthy dose of sarcasm and humor, the inspiration behind each artwork is anything but funny as he translates searing critiques into aesthetically beautiful paintings. For instance a 2016 piece criticizing housing problems in the Celadina district of Bergamo, Italy depicts cramped residents as a brightly hued rainbow but leaves a small group of authorities in the lower right completely devoid of color. Collected here is a selection of murals from the last year, you can see more detailed shots by flipping through his blog. You can also get an idea of how he works—perched on a tiny suspended seat—in this short GIF.

Porto Torres, 2016

Celadina, 2016

Catina, 2016

Alta Voracita, 2016

supergee: (disgust)
posted by [personal profile] supergee at 10:59am on 29/05/2017 under
Red Pill founder Robert Fisher will now withhold his essence from the legislature.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll at 10:33am on 29/05/2017
Instead of just futilely bouncing ideas around in my head, I could just ask:

Does there exist a check list of tasks for establishing a small, one-day con?
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll at 09:53am on 29/05/2017

Posted by Christopher Jobson

NASA’s Juno spacecraft launched in 2011, arriving at Jupiter in July of 2016 to begin a series of what will eventually be 12 orbits around the Solar System’s largest planet. The path selected for this particular mission is a wide polar orbit, most of which is spent well away from Jupiter. But once every 53 days Juno screams from top to bottom across the surface of the gaseous planet, recording data and snapping photographs for two hours. It takes around 1.5 days to download the six megabytes of data collected during the transit.

Juno only takes a handful of still photographs each time it passes Jupiter, all of which are made available to the public. Lucky for us Sean Doran stitched together the images from Juno’s last transit (colorized by Gerald Eichstädt) to create an approximate video/animation of what it looks like to fly over the giant planet. Music added by Avi Solomon.

andrewducker: (Default)
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
The Guardian: Manchester trauma surgeon racially abused on his way to work

Specifically: Yorkshire-born Naveed Yasin -- who had spent the previous two days doing extremely demanding surgery on victims of the Manchester attack, and was heading back into work to do more of the same -- was called a "terrorist" and told to "go back to [his] own country" (with assorted other racial slurs and obscenities, naturally).
solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
posted by [personal profile] solarbird at 12:51am on 29/05/2017 under ,
I have been rather overwhelmed lately. I apologise for that.

This is a catch-up round of news. I'm not attempting to make it complete, but I think it's a reasonable overview of some of the worst, at least, before this weekend.

It's May 30th, 2017; let's get caught up on the news )
Mood:: 'blank' blank
posted by [syndicated profile] fictionmachine_feed at 06:54am on 29/05/2017

Posted by Grant Watson

Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank) is a former Christian who, after suffering a great tragedy on a mission in Africa, has established a career investigating and debunking miracles. Along with her assistant Ben (Idris Elba), she travels to the Louisiana town of Haven when the local river turns blood-red. Instead of discovering a natural phenomenon she finds herself in the midst of a series of Biblical plagues and a town guarding a hidden secret.

The Reaping boasts a great cast, a talented director and some impressive production values. It is important to note that from the outset, because those specific merits are easily lost by the film’s ham-fisted, cliche-ridden and wall-to-wall dreadful screenplay. There have been some great horror films made out of Christian theology. A few, like William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, stand as genuine all-time greats of cinema. The Reaping has no chance of following them, or even managing to reach their shadow. It is less of a thriller and more of a long, tedious list of things not to do in a horror movie.

For one thing it foreshadows its story aggressively, resulting in pretty much no surprises whatsoever. Had it concealed its tracks a little better it could have climaxed on a tremendous bait-and-switch, but instead it just confirms what most of its audience will have already guessed.

It also leaves little room for doubt between whether the phenomena affecting Haven are measurable scientific occurrences or if they actually are divine or demonic miracles. There is a clear tension available to the film in pitting skeptical scientists against issues of faith, but the screenplay folds almost as soon as it begins.

That dovetails into the weirdest element of the film, which is an oddly evangelistic tone that permeates the horror and weakens the entire story. Horror works when it is inexplicable and terrifying. The Reaping ultimately seems to be pitching for a belief in a Christian God to defend oneself against Satan. By being so specific it ruins the uncertainty completely, and for a viewer tired of Christian proselytizing it actually irritates a little bit.

The film also ends in a large-scale, visual effects-oriented fashion, which is another quick kiss of death to horror and tension. Nobody is afraid of a massive computer-generated effect. The best horror is intimate, and small, and difficult to perceive.

This is all a tremendous shame, because as noted earlier the rest of the film actually does bring a lot of quality to the film. Hilary Swank delivers a very strong performance as a woman who has lost her faith, only to be violently challenged to find it again. She begins the film at least as a smart, analytical and bold scientific investigator. Idris Elba and David Morrissey are both effective in supporting roles. Director Stephen Hopkins – who has directed much better films than this including The Ghost and the Darkness and Under Suspicion – brings out some nice performances and staging throughout. It is all servicing a terrible screenplay, so in the final analysis all of the acting, direction and production values are little more than lipstick on a pig. ‘You can’t polish a turd,’ states one famous Hollywood maxim. ‘But you can roll it in glitter,’ states another.

rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)


posted by [personal profile] rydra_wong at 08:28am on 29/05/2017 under
I am generally ignoring UK politics in favour of US politics because the latter is a fuck of a lot more entertaining right now.

However, this is happening:

The Independent: Conservatives slash election projections as Corbyn surge in polls continues
The Guardian: Tory nerves fray as Jeremy Corbyn narrows Theresa May’s lead in new poll

To be more accurate, I think it's not that Corbyn himself is doing anything spectacularly impressive but that May is fucking up spectacularly. And the Tories still have a solid lead.

(And obviously by this point, we know that polling seems to be broken even if nobody knows why.)

However, just avoiding a Tory landslide would mean a lot. And for the Tories to end up with a reduced majority (and May seen as a liability) would be magical and also hilarious.

posted by [syndicated profile] creativefidget_feed at 06:03am on 29/05/2017

Posted by chocolatetrudi

A month or two ago I bought this book:

It’s a fun idea, making art materials from scratch. It’s also amusing to see where the author goes in the pursuit of creating them ‘from nature’. Some of the tools used to make them are modern (drills, carving knife), and yet it suggests making glue by melting down animal hoofs, etc.

A friend cut me some of her bamboo so I could try making pens. It was easy enough to carve them. However, the book doesn’t say whether to use fresh or dry bamboo, or what kind. My pens shrivelled out as they dried out:

I don’t think I’ll be getting any nice lines out of these!

I’d like to try making my own paint brush and black ink. Hopefully they won’t be as great a failure as my bamboo pens!

posted by [syndicated profile] dg_weblog_feed at 07:00am on 29/05/2017

Posted by diamond geezer

One thing about Birmingham, it doesn't take long walking out of the city centre to reach suburbia. Aston is one such area, just beyond the inner ring road, a mix of terraces and flats and towers with a population whose ethnic make-up reminded me of home in East London. Carving through is the Aston Expressway, a 1960s motorway linking the M6 to the centre of the city, less a dual carriageway and more a 7-lane canyon whose central lane switches direction according to peak flow, hence not for the faint-hearted driver.

The other big local presence is Villa Park, home to Aston Villa football ground, a drab fortress whose exterior is enlivened only by a bit of nice lettering on the brickwork at one end. Occasional glimpses can been seen of banks of seating in claret and sky blue, within a capacious interior that's hosted more FA Cup semi-finals than any other ground.

But the tale I'd like to tell is that of the mansion across the road in Aston Park, in whose kitchen garden Aston Villa's Villa Park was built.

That's Aston Hall, a magnificent Jacobean mansion built to impress, with two ornate symmetrical wings and chimneystacks aplenty. Construction began almost exactly 400 years ago, to meet the dreams of local landowner Sir Thomas Holte, and took almost two decades to complete. His timing was unfortunate because the English Civil War broke out shortly afterwards, the surrounding populace being strongly Parliamentarian, and the house came under attack on Christmas Day 1643. One cannonball made it through the walls and through a balustrade on the Oak Stairs, leaving a hole which has never been repaired, and which tour guides take great pleasure in pointing out.

I've never yet been on a bad tour organised by Birmingham Museums, the umbrella body now responsible for maintaining the city's municipal heritage stock. In this case our small group was lead by a fervent Villa fan, mixing facts with colour on our three storey safari from the ostentatious entrance hall to the servants quarters. The wood panelling is gorgeous, if a bit warped in places, such as the undulating floor of the Long Gallery (one of the longest in England). More impressive is the ornate plasterwork across and around several ceilings, incorporating pagan figures and the occasional anachronistic elephant (added by a later owner, the son of engineer James Watt).

The house boasts a room where King Charles I actually slept, five days before the Battle of Edgehill, and an attic garret where Sir Thomas is said to have detained his daughter for trying to elope with a lowly farmer's son. She stayed locked away for years until she went mad and died, whereas Sir Thomas lived to the age of 83, an almost unheard-of longevity for the time. The tour runs weekdays only (you get to go round on your own at weekends) and is excellent value at just over an hour, and can be topped off with a visit to the stables cafe, a walk in the beautifully maintained formal gardens, or a sprawl in the surrounding park. Next time you're in Birmingham, that is.

posted by [syndicated profile] the_angriest_feed at 01:38pm on 29/05/2017

Posted by Grant

Valiant doesn't really do line-wide crossover miniseries like DC and Marvel, but they do regularly publish miniseries throwing multiple characters together for an adventure. Rapture presents a team-up between Ninjak, Shadowman and Tama the geomancer in the realm of Deadside, a creepy underworld filled with ghosts and demons.

Issue #1 pretty much sets up the story for the remaining three issues, and introduces the world of Deadside and its varied demonic inhabitants. Writer Matt Kindt has put a lot of creativity into this world, and the story benefits enormously by having this environment bedded down and explained before Ninjak and Shadowman enter it. Before they arrive the story is in the hands of Tama, a young girl with an enormous responsibility to see the approach of the end of the world. As written here she's very likeable and engaging.

Cafu's artwork is strong and Andrew Dalhouse's colours and wonderfully strong and rich. I am a huge fan of Dalhouse's work; he really makes his books pop off the page. You can pretty much always rely on Valiant to produce a solid and entertaining limited series, and Rapture is no exception. (4/5)

Rapture #1. Valiant. Written by Matt Kindt. Art by Cafu. Colours by Andrew Dalhouse.

Under the cut: reviews of Batgirl, Rat Queens, Seven to Eternity and X-O Manowar.

Batgirl #11
DC Comics. Written by Hope Larson. Art by Chris Wildgoose and Jim Lam. Colours by Mat Lopes.
It's time for the final showdown between Batgirl and Blacksun, aka Ethan Cobblepot - the resentful and brilliant tech genius son of the Penguin. This second story arc for Hope Larson's run shows an enormous improvement over the middling "Beyond Burnside" storyline. It returns Batgirl to Gotham's university suburb of Burnside and re-introduces the suppporting cast that made the previous volume of the comic so much more involving and entertaining. I mentioned Chris Wildgoose's wonderfully strong and distinctive artwork when reviewing the last issue, but it really does bear repeating. An exciting story, a neatly tied-up climax, and a new villain to potentially return in future. All up it's a great superhero comic. (4/5)

Rat Queens #3

Image. Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe. Art and colours by Owen Gieni.
The Rat Queen's return to Palisades isn't going so well, since not only is there a rival group working their same missions there is also a team of cult hunters in town threatening to make life difficult. This is a great issue: the humour is hitting the right notes, Owen Gieni's artwork has settled in nicely and it really does feel like a ship has been righted. If anything this book feels even more comedic than it used to. with some funny segues and left-of-field moments really making a difference. (4/5)

Seven to Eternity #6
Image. Written by Rick Remender. Art by Jerome Opena. Colours by Matt Hollingsworth.
Adam Osidis and the Mosak have no option in their journey to venture into a cursed swamp, risking death from the horrors inside than death at the hands of the Mud King's son who pursues them. This is a big issue, with high stakes and a game-changing choice made. I have gushed about Jerome Opena's exceptional artwork when reviewing previous issues, but it is worth pausing to appreciate what a well-developed and satisfying quest storyline that Rick Remember has written as well. The world-building is tremendous. This is an outstanding and must-read fantasy comic book. (5/5)

X-O Manowar #3
Valiant. Written by Matt Kindt. Art by Tomas Giorello, David Mack and Zu Orzu. Colours by Diego Rodriguez.
It's a double Valiant dose of Matt Kindt this week as he also writes the third issue of X-O Manowar. With Aric on an alien planet somewhere far away from Earth, and fighting someone else's pitched war as a slave, there is a lot to this relaunched book that reminds me of Greg Pak's outstanding "Planet Hulk" run for Marvel - and that's no bad thing. Sometimes the best thing you can do with a long-running character is throw them into an entirely new and challenging environment. This book is just stunning to look at, with rich heroic fantasy designs and a classical feel. There is even some valuable back story on the planet's ruling classes with guest artwork from David Mack. Three issues in, X-O Manowar is just stunning. (5/5)

Posted by cks

I recently discovered git worktrees and did some experimentation with using them for stuff that I do. The short summary of my experience so far is that while I can see the appeal for certain sorts of usage cases, I don't think git worktrees are a good fit for my situation and I'm probably to use completely independent repositories in the future.

My usage case was building my own copies of multiple versions of some project, starting with Go. Especially in the case of a language compiler and its standard library, it's reasonably useful to have the latest development version plus a stable version or two; for example, it gives me an easy way to test if something I'm working on will build on older released versions or if I've let a dependency on some recent bit of the standard library creep in. The initial process of creating a worktree for, say, Go 1.8 is reasonably straightforward:

cd /some/where/go
git worktree add -b release-branch.go1.8 ../v1.8 origin/release-branch.go1.8

What proved tricky for me is updating this v1.8 tree when the Go people update Go 1.8, as they do periodically. My normal way of staying up to date on what changes are happening in the main line of Go is to do 'git pull' in my master repo directory, note the lines that get printed out about fetched updates, eg:

remote: Finding sources: 100% (64/64)
remote: Total 64 (delta 23), reused 64 (delta 23)
Unpacking objects: 100% (64/64), done.
   ffab6ab877..d64c49098c  master     -> origin/master

And then I use 'git log ffab6ab877..d64c49098c' to see what changed. The problem with worktrees is that this information is printed by 'git fetch', and normally 'git fetch' updates all branches, both the mainline and, say, a release branch you're following. So I actively don't want to run 'git pull' or 'git fetch' in the worktree directory, because otherwise I will have to remember to stop and look at the mainline updates it's just fetched and reported to me.

What I wound up doing was running 'git pull' in my main go tree and if there was an update to origin/release-branch.go1.8 reported, I'd go to my 'v1.8' directory and do 'git merge --ff-only'. This mostly worked (it blew up on me once for reasons I don't understand), but it means that dealing with a worktree is different than dealing with a normal Git repo directory (including an independently cloned repo). Since 'git pull' and other Git commands work 'normally' in a worktree, I have to explicitly remember that I created something as a worktree (or check to see if .git is a directory to know, since 'git status' doesn't helpfully tell you one way or the other).

(In my current moderate level of Git knowledge and experience, I'm going to avoid writing about the good usage cases I think I see for worktrees. Anyway, one of them is documented in the git-worktree manpage; I note that their scenario uses a worktree for a one-shot branch that's never updated from upstream.)

As mentioned, if I want to see if a particular Git repo is a worktree or not I need to do 'ls -ld .git'. If it's a file, I have a worktree. If I have a directory, with how I currently use Git, it's a full repo. 'git worktree list' will list the main repo and worktrees, but it doesn't annotate things with a 'you are here' marker. Obviously if I used worktrees enough I could write a status command to tell me, but then if I was doing that I could probably write a bunch of commands to do what I want in general.

Sidebar: Excessively clever Git configuration hacking (maybe)

Bearing in mind that I don't understand Git as much as I think I may, as far as I can see what branches 'git fetch' fetches are determined from the configuration for the remote for a branch, not from the branch's configuration. There appear to be two options for fiddling things here.

The 'obvious' option is to create a second remote (call it, say, 'v1.8-origin') with the same url as origin but a fetch setting that only fetches the particular branch:

fetch = refs/heads/release-branch.go1.8:refs/remotes/origin/release-branch.go1.8

Then I'd switch the remote for the release-branch.go1.8 branch to this new remote.

Git-fetch also has a feature where you can have a per-branch configuration in $GIT_DIR/branches/<branch>; this can be used to name the upstream 'head' (branch) that will be fetched into the local branch. It appears that creating such a file should do the trick, but I can't find people writing about this on the Internet (just many copies of the git-fetch manpage), so I'm wary of assuming that I understand what's going to happen here. Plus, it's apparently a deprecated legacy approach.

(If I understand all of this correctly, either approach would preserve 'git pull' in the main repo (which is on the master branch) always fetching all branches from upstream.)

siderea: (Default)
This is brilliantly put:


I know you want to, and you are constantly being told that you must, excel at and be committed to, for example:

1. earning a living wage
2. healing from and/or dealing with injury, illness, emotional trauma, disability
3. basic self-care and adulting (laundry, financial management, etc.)
[... nine more categories elided... ] enough downtime to keep you functional.

But excelling at each of those is equivalent to a full-time job and you cannot physically do them all. In fact, our society considers basic competence at two of them to be a passing grade. ONLY TWO.[...]
Read the whole thing. Recommended.

ETA: I would spin yet a thirteenth category off from #2. Distinct from health is recovering from catastrophe – I had to deal with both The Evacuation and exciting health issues in the past year, and they were quite distinct, though intersecting. Dealing with moving out of my home, having it remediated, and then moving back in, on no notice, was a full-time job. Heck, I'm not even done. TODAY I moved one of my large garment bags (full of summer clothes, natch) home from [personal profile] tn3270's place. I still have [personal profile] jducoeur's handcart. My house is still full of boxes (though, admittedly, that's its default state.) I still don't know where everything goes. Meanwhile along the way I was also trying to do physical therapy appointments and seeing an escalating chain of medical specialists. Whee.
jolantru: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] jolantru at 08:38am on 29/05/2017 under ,
For people who are concerned about my previous posts about health:

The CT scan showed that it was just a fluid-filled cyst and my specialist didn't seem fussed about it, only slated another blood test (she's well-known for it amongst the nurses!) when I see her again in July. The blood test is to evaluate my liver functions. So basically ever since I came back from Perth, Australia, I had been exercising and watching what I eat. Gruelling and sometimes downright miserable-making for me - but it's paying off.

Just as well that my body past 40 seems to be rejecting/hating/disliking things gluten and dairy... which was a doozy for me because I love yoghurt and bread. But it seems that my colon doesn't appreciate a lot of it and even a tiny smidgeon triggers it to grumbling.

But hey, I feel fine at age 42.

So, that's the long and short about my health. Just give me lots of nice salads when you see me next time. :D
May 28th, 2017

Posted by Stilgherrian

The Library a la Jeffrey SmartMy week of Monday 22 to Sunday 28 May 2017 wasn’t special in any way whatsoever. Why should it be? All this carry-on about magical lives is a bunch of middle-class smugness that should be erased from the earth.

Did I tell you I broke my glasses on Wednesday? That event shaped the latter part of the week, because I’m struggling a bit to organise replacements. That’s under way now, thanks to the generosity of friends, and I’ll tell you more over the next few days.

For now, on with the show…

Articles, Podcasts, Corporate Largesse

None, but I did write a piece for ZDNet that’ll appear in the next few days, and podcast plans are detailed below.

Media Appearances

  • On Monday 22 May, one of my photos was used to illustrate a piece on The Conversation, The weather is now political. I’m continually amazed by the way people find a use for what are really just random snapshots, and poor ones.

The Week Ahead

Like last week, this week I plan to do a solid amount of work on the SEKRIT editorial project; write a thing or two for ZDNet, plus, I guess, a bunch of other things, like organise new glasses. I won’t assign specific tasks to specific days, because as I explained last week, that tends to jinx things.

The next episode of The 9pm Edict podcast will be recorded and streamed live on Tuesday 30 May Thursday 1 June from, starting at 2100 AEST. You still have time to support this podcast with a one-off contribution.

(For those of you who’ve been asking about ongoing contributions, yes, I still intend to set up a better system for that. That won’t be finalised for a while, though, so one-off contributions are very welcome.)

Further Ahead

I’m covering 5th International Conference on Cybercrime and Computer Forensics (ICCCF) on the Gold Coast from 16 to 18 July, I hope; and the national conference of the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) in Sydney on 10 to 12 October.

If there’s anything I should add in there, please let me know.

I also plan to produce a short series of podcasts which will be conversations with people I don’t necessarily agree with. These might be public figures — I hope to speak with One Nation’s Senator Malcolm Roberts, for example — or people who simply represent a different point of view. In June, I’ll record a pilot episode, kicking off with an easy question: Is there a God?

[Photo: The Library a la Jeffrey Smart. The view from the cafe in the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba, photographed on 5 May 2017. The cropping and adjustments to the colour needed to bring out detail in the seated figure drew out the light in the matter of a Jeffrey Smart painting.]

posted by [syndicated profile] dotaturls_feed at 11:55pm on 27/05/2017
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll at 05:32pm on 28/05/2017
But if he notices Ibid is sleeping with his tongue out, he tries to tuck it in.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll at 05:21pm on 28/05/2017
A gaggle of adorable little girls spontaneously charging towards the edge of the stage to divide people into those who freeze in a crisis and those who don't.
posted by [syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed at 06:58pm on 28/05/2017

Posted by John Scalzi

Yup, she did it, and here is the photographic proofa photo set with her (and Hunter, her boyfriend) before, during and after the graduation ceremony. Enjoy it as if you were there your very own self!

(And for those wondering, it was a fine ceremony, and very quick, since Athena had a graduating class of 32. Small rural schools, man. But it was enough time to get all misty-eyed.)

Posted by Zak Sabbath

This is the list of weapons and other gear for Demon City. Vehicles will be in another entry. While there are lots of other things not here, it's because I assume say, the cost and game function of--say--a modern backpack is self-explanatory, lemme know if you see anything that isn't...


Note many “Nonlethal” weapons can actually kill a target if used repeatedly or if the target’s maximum Toughness is 0 to start.

Axe, Wood

Cash Check: 1

Axe-Hatchet/Throwing Axe:

Cash Check: 1
Notes: Can be thrown up to Toughness x 10 feet. Add a Situation Die to hit against any weapon except a knife at extreme close range, otherwise an opponent with a longer weapon has the a Situation Die vs the hatchet-wielder.

Baton/Hammer/Heavy Stick/Crowbar/Iron bar/Baseball bat/Sap/Sack of Pennies, other blunt weapon

Cash Check: 0-2 (expensive telescoping batons are concealable)

Blow torch/Welding torch

Cash Check: 1
Notes: Requires a fuel tank and some require an external spark to get started. 


Cash Check: 2
Range: Lose a die to hit beyond 1500 ft.
Notes: Including modern hunting bows, crossbows, etc. Quieter than guns but in a stand-up fight a gun gets a Situation Die vs someone using a bow.

Cattle Prod, Stun Baton or Stun Gun

Cash Check: 1
Range: Touch

Notes: Nonlethal, no damage. Make a Toughness check vs a 5 to take any action. No effect on anything above Toughness 5.

Chain Weapons (heavy chain, nunchaku, morningstar, etc)

Cash Check: 1
Notes: Situation Die vs any attempt to block or parry. Lose a die if used without Hand to Hand skill.

Chainsaw/Circular Saw

Cash Check: 1
Notes: Cannot be blocked or parried by most melee weapons. Toughness check vs a 2 to use effectively in melee. Does Massive Damage to an unarmed target, and to the user on a fumble. Seeing an enemy inflict a wound with a power saw triggers a Calm Check of at least 4 in any witness.

Explosives in General (Dynamite, TNT, Pipe bombs, C4, Mines etc)

Cash Check: 2
Notes: Do Massive Damage in a radius determined by the amount used and the Explosives skill of the person setting them up (precision requires a higher check, as does a particularly large or quickly-activated explosion). If the victims know its coming they’re allowed an Agility Check (usually vs the opponent’s Agility if it’s thrown).

Garotte/Piano Wire etc

Cash Check: 0
Notes: Any stout strangling wire. Successfully grapples any target it hits. Lost Die to hit a target who sees it coming.


Cash Check: 2 (damage-causing ones are illegal)
Range: 25 feet per point of thrower’s Toughness

Notes: If the targets are aware of the grenade and mobile, they all get a Agility check vs the thrower’s Agility score to avoid being in the blast radius.
 There are several styles…

Concussion: Massive Damage within a 6 foot radius.

Flashbang/Stun: Targets disoriented and deaf for the first round and until a Toughness check vs a 5 is made. 10’ radius.

Fragmentation: Does Massive Damage to anyone within 50’ radius. 

Gas: Can be anything but a typical gas grenade requires a Toughness check vs a 5 each round to avoid disabling nausea. 20’ radius.

Smoke: Obscures vision within 20’ radius.

Stingball: Full of hard rubber balls, Standard Damage within 10’ radius, nonlethal.


Guns, like all missile weapons, have an extra die over melee weapons, the unarmed, at most distances greater than arms length and over other distance weapons. They do Massive Damage to unresisting targets within 5 feet. Regular guns have an effective range of about 10 feet underwater before the short cartridge length gets pulled off course by the water.

Ammunition capacities for specific models of gun are easy to find online. Just type in the name and “capacity”. 

Legality: When you decide where your campaign is set, you can check online for laws regarding high-capacity (over 10 shots for handguns) magazines (always changing, especially in cities) and concealed carry for that place, but practically speaking the main thing is getting noticed brandishing a gun in public for any reason will probably attract police attention and they’ll probably think up a charge if they want to (threatening, reckless endangerment, disturbing the peace, discharging a weapon in city limits, etc). Assault rifles and submachine guns are quasi-legal (it depends when they were made and whether the full-auto setting is enabled, its complicated.) and machine guns are illegal for civilians to own (long story).

Characters who would have a concealed carry license (bounty hunters, cops, detectives, gun nuts) can go ahead and have one, other characters who want to already have one have a 10% chance of having one already if they have Firearms skill.

These are the most common kinds:


Cash Check: 2
Range: Lose a die to hit beyond 300 ft.
Ammunition:  Most revolvers hold 6 rounds, a policeman’s Glock will hold 13-17 rounds and is typical for modern automatics, the highly concealable and very cute Russian PB-4 Osa holds 4 rounds. Unless its known the gun is fully-loaded, after the first shot a revolver will have d10 divided by 2 rounds left and a typical automatic will have 2d10 rounds left.

Notes:  Handguns have a Situation Die over long guns at ranges up to 15 feet. More concealable, too. 


Cash Check: 2
Range: Lose a die to hit beyond 300 ft.
Ammunition: Shotguns typically hold 2 (old hunting rifles) to 10 (combat shotgun) rounds and are often subjected to magazine-size restrictions.

Notes: Shotguns can be fitted with nonlethal shot rounds (bean bags, rock salt)—these function like normal damage except you can’t die from it. They have a Situation Die over other non-automatic long guns when in their preferred range of less than 75 ft. 

Hunting Rifle

Cash Check: 2
Range: Lose a die to hit beyond 1500 ft.
Ammunition: Typically 3-10 rounds.

Notes: Hunting rifles have a Situation Die over shotguns, machine guns and handguns at long ranges—75 feet or more. 

Sniper Rifle

Cash Check: 3
Range: Lose a die to hit beyond 2200 ft.
Ammunition: Typically holds 3-10 rounds.

Notes: Essentially a really nice hunting rifle. They have a Situation Die over any other gun at long ranges—75 feet or more. 

Assault Rifle (M-16, AK-47 etc)
Cash Check: 2 (quasi legal)
Range: Lose a die to hit beyond 1000 ft.
Ammunition: Typically 30 rounds

Notes: Have a Situation Die over any other handheld gun at ranges of 10-75 feet. Shooters with Firearms skill can fire at a number of targets per round equal to their skill or can do Massive Damage to one target. They will end up using d10 bullets per round (unless they make a point to use a specific number: 1 or 3, in which case they lose a die against other guns) with a minimum of 1 per target. 

Submachine Gun (Uzi, Mac 10, Thompson “Tommy gun”, etc)
Cash Check: 2 (quasi legal)
Range: Lose a die to hit beyond 300 ft.
Ammunition: Typically 30 rounds

Notes: Submachine guns are like assault rifles but less powerful. Have a Situation Die over any other handheld gun except an assault rifle at ranges of 10-75 feet. Shooters with Firearms skill can fire at a number of targets per round equal to their skill or can do Massive Damage to one target. They will end up using d10 bullets per round (unless they make a point to use a specific number: 1 or 3, in which case they lose a die against other guns) with a minimum of 1 per target. 

Machine Gun

Cash Check: 3 (quasi legal)
Range: Lose a die to hit beyond 1000 ft.
Ammunition: 30-100 rounds in a portable magazine—though they’re often belt-fed.

Notes: These are heavy fully-automatic military weapons, illegal to buy, often belt-fed and used with a tripod or mounted on a vehicle. Lighter machine guns can be fired without a tripod but they require a Toughness check or else the shooter loses a die. These do Massive Damage to all targets, and can hit a number of targets per round equal to the shooter’s Firearms score (No firearms skill? You’re at -2 dice). They use d10 bullets per round (minimum of 1 bullet per target hit). 

Flare Gun

Cash Check: 1
Range: 30 ft
Ammunition: 1 shot
Notes: Lost Die to hit, the flare itself will likely bounce off and start a fire in a random place within 20 feet of the target. A result causing damage indicates a face hit, the cartridge penetrating a soft area, or the flare lighting up and scalding the target. Useless against armor. Also can, like, be used the way it’s supposed to be to light up an area with a signal flare.

Tranquilizer Gun

Cash Check: 2
Range: Lose a die beyond 100 ft (for pistol version), beyond 300 (for rifle version)
Ammunition: 1 shot
Notes: One thing few people know about tranquilizer guns is they kind of suck. It’s very difficult to know how much and what kind of drug to give a human to knock them out without killing them or inflicting permanent damage. In-game, this essentially means that—when used on a person—a tranq gun might as well just be a gun. A hit that does damage but doesn’t kill inflicts its damage in the form of nausea and disorientation rather than putting holes in you.

Harpoon Gun

Cash Check: 1
Range: Underwater—Lose a die beyond 20 ft, On land—up to 50 feet but lose a die immediately
Ammunition: 1 shot
Notes: Regular guns are useless beyond 10 feet underwater because of the short cartridge length. Pneumatic or rubber-band-driven, harpoon guns are hard to control on land because the lack of resistance gives them wicked recoil—a fumble above water indicates the recoil hit you in the face, which loses you a turn.

Heavy Things (refrigerators, walls, giant crates, etc)

Things heavier than a person that must be tipped over onto-, dropped on-, or shoved into enemies with machines attack at -2 dice but do Massive Damage.

Improvised Weapon (awkward)

Notes: Lamps, chairs, umbrellas, thrown rocks, etc—things used as weapons in a pinch but neither designed to be nor well-suited to it. Like most weapons, these grant a Situation Die vs unarmed opponents but opponents armed with real weapons or more easily weaponizable objects will give a Situation Die vs the improvised-weapon wielder. 

Knife/Dagger/Letter Opener

Cash Check: 0-1
Range: 5 feet per point of agility/hand-to-hand skill (untrained throwers get are at 2 Lost Dice), Lose a die for knives not designed for it
Notes: A Situation Die vs nearly any weapon at extreme close range. Otherwise an opponent with a distance weapon or longer melee weapon has a Situation Die. Survival knives (Swiss Army, etc) often have compasses, screwdrivers, etc built in.

Knuckledusters/Brass Knuckles

Cash Check: 1 (quasi-legal)
Notes: Like other weapons, a Situation Die vs an unarmed opponent. Also a lot easier to break glass, etc without hurting yourself.

Molotov Cocktail

Cash Check: 1 (to get ingredients)
Range: 20 feet per point of thrower’s Toughness

Notes: If the targets are aware of the grenade and mobile, they all get a Agility check vs the thrower’s Agility score to avoid being in the blast radius. Does standard damage to anyone within 15’.

Pepper Spray/Mace

Cash check: 1
Range: 2’

Notes: Nonlethal, no damage. Make a Toughness check each round vs a 4 to take any action.  No effect on anything above Toughness 5.


Cash Check: 2
Notes: If user is trained in hand to hand: a Situation Die if used to block or parry a melee attack and a Situation Die vs other melee weapons that can be blocked or parried when at a distance of 2-5 feet (not cumulative).


Cash Check: 2
Range: 35’ (legal civilian version: 15’) —they don’t work at less than 5 ft.
Ammunition: 1 shot

Notes: Nonlethal, no damage. Useless against armored targets and people in heavy coats. Make a Toughness check vs a 5 each round to take any action. One failed shot requires two rounds of reloading.  No effect on anything above Toughness 5.


Airline TIckets
Cash Check: 2-3
Notes: Most flights are Cash Check 2. Last-minute ones or ones to far-flung or unusual locations are 3.

Auto Theft Kit
Cash Check: 2
Notes: Includes a Slim Jim (thin piece of sheet metal that trips a door lock), a long arm to reach in and flip lock switches, auto wedges (force open a gap between door and car using compressed air, just enough to let in a long arm).

Cash Check: 2
Notes: Allows movement at a Speed of 6 a Situation Die if racing vs a skateboard.

Cash Check: 1

“Bug”/Listening Device
Cash Check: 1-3
Notes: Bugs trying to catch anything subtle require a Perception check or an Electronics check (whichever is higher). Bugs that cost 2 add 1 die to the check, bugs that cost 3 add 2 dice to the check. The cost also modifies how hard they are to find, Cost 2 devices are -1 Lost Die to find, Cost 3 are -2 Lost Dice to find.

Bullet Proof Vest
Cash Check: 2
Notes: Increases functional Toughness by 2 and decreases Agility by 1 (to a minimum of 0).

Bullet Proof Outfit (including mask)
Cash Check: 3
Notes: Increases functional Toughness by 3, decreases Perception by 1 and decreases Agility by 2 (to a minimum of 0).

Bump Key
Cash Check: 1
Notes: A specially-prepared house key with a filed-down profile which taps tumblers and pins into place. Long ago replaced lock-picks as the home-intrusion device of choice. Allows quick, quiet entry to a standard home door lock on a Burglary/Theft Check vs a 1. The automotive version is a set of jiggler keys.

Cash Check: 1
Notes: Bits of metal shrapnel that stick up off the ground. They can be purchased or made from nails and scrap. Creates an obstacles for cars, police horses, bicycles, foot pursuers, etc. Agility or driving check vs thrower’s Agility to avoid, if hit they puncture tires and shoes and slow down anyone pursuing.

Camping Gear
Cash Check: 2
Notes: Everything you need for low-grade outdoor survival: tent, sleeping bag, propane stove, etc.

Climbing Gear
Cash Check: 3
Notes: The advantage of professional climbing gear is it makes it much harder to fall very far.

Cold Weather Clothes 
Cash Check: 1

Disguise Kit
Cash Check: 2
Notes: Latex prosthetics, fake mustache, etc. Adds two dice to deception attempts if applied correctly. How do you know if you applied it correctly? Roll Deception (or, if you don't have it, Appeal with a Lost Die) vs a 2 to find out the first time you use it. If you fail, you automatically blow your cover. 

Diversion Safe
Cash Check: 1
Notes: A steel-walled safe disguised as an ordinary household object such as a can of motor oil or a clock.

Fake Identification
Cash Check: 1-3
Notes: Cost 1 items will pass a standard once-over from a bartender, more expensive ones add dice (one per point) to checks to bluff more serious investigation.

Formal Item of Clothing
Cash Check: 2

Formal Outfit
Cash Check: 3

Cash Check: 0-1
Notes: Expensive flashlights can double as weapons— a Situation Die vs an unarmed opponent.

Handcuff Key
Cash Check: 1
Notes: Small metal shim allows escape from handcuffs on a successful Burglary/Theft roll against a 2. Many models are manufactured to hide in coins, pens, etc.

Cash Check: 1-5
Notes: Price corresponds to the social class of fellow guests and the quality of the security for Burglary/Theft checks.

Lockpick Gun 
Cash Check: 2 
Notes: Allows quick, quiet entry to a standard home door lock on a Burglary/Theft Check vs a 1. Good chance of damaging the lock. Makes some noise.

Motion Sensor Alarms
Cash Check: 2
Notes: Burglary/Theft roll of 3 or better to bypass.

Roller Skates/Blades
Cash Check: 1
Notes: Allows movement at Speed 6.

Cash Check: 0-1
Notes: Essentially brass knuckles for your shoes—a series of raised metal spikes that anchor between laces. a Situation Die vs an unarmed opponent if you’re trained in hand-to-hand combat.

Cash Check: 2
Notes: Allows movement at Speed 6.

Cash Check: 1
Notes: Standard hardware—screwdrivers, wrenches, etc.

Trains (cross country)
Cash Check: 2

Trains (communter)
Cash Check: 0

UV Powder
Cash Check: 1
Notes: Smeared on any surface, this slightly sticky powder is normally invisible but reveals fingerprints in UV light.

Ride Service, Taxi or Car Rental
Cash Check: 1
Notes: Follow-that-car situations rely on a taxi being there exactly when you want it, which is common in New York and many European capitals, but rare in many American cities. Roll randomly if unsure.

Rope, Nylon, 50’
Cash Check: 1

Cash Check: 3
Notes: Silencers don’t really silence things, they just make them quieter than gunshots, so a 1 die difference in terms of being heard. They don’t work on revolvers.

If you're eager to see this finished so you can use any of this stuff on a three-shadowed Qlipoth, donate to the Demon City Patreon.


Posted by Tony Finch

How to use conscious purpose without wrecking everything.
darjeeling: Priest Set & Kisara | Yuugiou DM ([ ANIM ] powerful is the soul)
posted by [personal profile] darjeeling in [site community profile] dw_community_promo at 01:33pm on 28/05/2017 under ,

The [community profile] yugioh fandom community is getting a reboot, just in time for the new series! Whether you're a fan of the original Duel Monsters, GX, 5D's, Zexal or the new VRAINS, all series and fanworks are welcome. Fanfic, art, icons, discussions, it's all good. There's also a new FRIENDING MEME posted for meeting other fans.
posted by [syndicated profile] twentysidedtale_feed at 04:00pm on 28/05/2017

Posted by Shamus

In Factorio, you build machines to harvest raw resources like iron ore or crude oil. Those resources are carried by conveyor belt or pipes to other machines that refine the raw materials into production-ready materials like iron plates and petrol. Those are then carried to other machines that turn them into machine parts. Those parts are then carried elsewhere and turned into a final product.

And then things get strange.

You might use that product directly. If the product is something like a conveyor belt or a robotic arm, then maybe you’ll carry that crap around in your inventory and use them to build more stuff. But the other thing that products are used for – and indeed the fate of the vast majority of manufactured products – is to be turned into science bottles.

Science bottles are yet another product. They look like little glass bottles of liquid of varying color. You have your conveyor system deliver them to science labs, and then the bottle is magically turned into research. The bottle vanishes from the world and you gain a little bit of progress towards your next research goal. Once your labs consume enough science bottles, you’ll unlock a new technology.

The early science bottles are fairly simple and can be constructed in just a couple of steps, while the late-game bottles require complex factories and vast quantities of resources.

This idea of turning raw ore into a bottle of colored juice and then turning the juice into knowledge is pretty silly and it’s obviously something you’re not supposed to think about. But we’re going to do it anyway.

What’s in the Bottle?

The buildings on the right pull in iron, and output gears and pipes. The conveyor carries that stuff over to the row of machines in the middle, which makes engines out of them.

The buildings on the right pull in iron, and output gears and pipes. The conveyor carries that stuff over to the row of machines in the middle, which makes engines out of them.

Factories never produce solid waste. They take in raw materials and spit out parts, and as far as we can tell nothing is lost in the process. It’s clear we’re not supposed to take this 100% literally, but… what if we did? How much stuff goes into a bottle of science juice? How much would one weigh?

Let’s start with the most basic bottle.

The red science bottle is made from a copper plate and an iron gear. In turn, one iron gear is made from two iron plates. So the raw materials required to make red science is 2 iron plates and 1 copper.

So how big are these metal plates?

Sadly, the game doesn’t give us any indication. The units page of the Wiki doesn’t really give us anything to go on. So we’re going to have to start approximating as best we can.

If we look at them on conveyor belts they look to be about half a meter square and perhaps a few centimeters thick. According to Wolfram Alpha, a block of iron 50cm × 50cm × 5cm would weigh 98kg, or 216 lbs.

I don’t really like this approximation, because it’s clear we shouldn’t be taking the sizes of things on conveyor belts literally either. Everything on a conveyor belt is the same size, regardless of how large or small it might be. A locomotive, a hand grenade, an oil refinery, and a circuit board all take up exactly the same space on the conveyor, so it’s pretty obvious these are more icons than physical representations of the objects.

Likewise, we can’t really use the player’s inventory as a guide. An assembly machine is roughly the size of a compact car, but they can be carried in stacks of 50 and the player’s starting inventory can hold 60 stacks. Moreover, their inventory can mysteriously expand with research and armor upgrades. So we have to regard the player’s inventory as a magical pocket dimension. It’s not something we can use as a guide for determining the scale or mass of an object.

Perhaps we could use the chests in the game? But then we come back to the questions of scale when we ask “How big are the chests?”

I love trains. They`re not really useful in the resource-rich maps I prefer, but I build them anyway because they`re so cool.

I love trains. They`re not really useful in the resource-rich maps I prefer, but I build them anyway because they`re so cool.

However, there is one container that has properties we should be able to figure out based on appearance: A train. The trains in the game look a lot like real-world trains, and I think it’s not out of line to suggest using real-world trains as a guide for what they can carry. We can then work backwards from this to work out the sizes of the stuff we care about. We still need to do some hand-waving in terms of scale, but I think this is the best we can do.

Consulting various forums for train nerds, it looks like weight capacity can vary quite a bit. But it seems like 100,000lbs (50 tons) is a nice conservative estimate for the payload capacity of a freight car. Let’s assume a fully loaded car in Factorio is carrying that much weight.

A car has 40 inventory slots, and each slot can hold a stack of 100 plates. That’s 4,000 total plates. This means each plate weighs 25lbs[6]. So, picture a good-sized dumbbell.

This means a red science bottle has 25lbs of copper and 50lbs of iron. Total payload: 75 lbs.

The recipe for a green science bottle, which has the boring name "science pack 2".

The recipe for a green science bottle, which has the boring name "science pack 2".

Next up is the green science bottle, which takes a robot arm[7] and one segment of the basic conveyor belt. Somehow those two devices are transformed into a glass bottle of green science juice.

So green science contains 37.5lbs of copper and 125lbs of iron. Total payload: 162.5 lbs.

Now things are going to get crazy. A blue science bottle contains a red circuit board, an “engine”, and an electric mining drill.

The problem we’re running into now is that red circuit boards take two units of plastic, and I have no idea how we’re supposed to work out how much mass is in a hunk of plastic. In the previous case we could argue that 100% of the raw materials was being used because there’s no waste. An iron gear must contain the same iron as two plates, or else every gear-making machine would quickly become buried under a mountain of metal shavings. But an oil refinery consumes crude oil and water and spits out petroleum. A chemical plant mixes the petroleum with coal to form plastic. We can’t argue that all of those raw materials wind up in the plastic bar, since the game clearly shows that some of it is burned off and released to the atmosphere in the form of grey smoke. There’s even gameplay consequences for doing this, so we can’t just hand-wave it all away as cosmetic.

We could use the same trick we used with freight trains to work out the weight, but it turns out that the stack size is the same for both metal plates and plastic. So going by weight would force us to conclude that plastic bars and metal plates have the same weight, and therefore it takes 50lbs of plastic to make a single circuit board.

The recipe for a blue science bottle

The recipe for a blue science bottle

But rather than come to that conclusion, let’s try to make this work. Since we’re free to say that plastic bars are any size we wish (since an unknown quantity of the the raw materials are burned off during production) and since we know it takes two of them to make a circuit board, let’s just make assumptions that make sense. We can argue that plastic bars are one pound apiece[8]. If we need a justification for why a train car can only carry 4,000 of them, we can say they’re light but bulky, and thus you can’t fit more on the train even if the train can easily handle the weight.

Now we just have to work out the rest of the inputs. Blue science takes 25 iron plates, 9.5 copper plates, 2 plastic bars, and an engine. If you run up the production chain a bit you can see an engine is another 9 iron plates.

So blue science contains 850 lbs of iron, 238 lbs of copper, and 2 pounds of plastic. Total payload: 1,090 lbs.

The recipe for a purple science bottle

The recipe for a purple science bottle

Purple science takes an assembling machine, an electric furnace, and an electric engine. Now we have a new ingredient to deal with: Stone bricks, which are apparently an important ingredient of the electric furnace[9]. No big deal. They’re bricks. Let’s just assume they’re basically normal bricks. A brick is about 8lbs.

An electric engine is just a regular engine with some circuit boards and lubricant. We can ignore the lubricant since it’s probably negligible in terms of the weight of the engine itself, and you could even argue it’s consumed producing the engine rather than running it. (Since you never add more later to keep the engine going.)

So purple science contains 825lbs of iron, 812lbs of copper, 10lbs of plastic, and 80lbs of bricks. Total payload: 1,727 lbs. Almost a ton!

There’s another bottle of grey science juice that’s used for military stuff, but it’s not very interesting. Not a lot of raw materials go into it and the ingredients are things like bullet magazines and hand grenades, which are of familiar weights. So let’s skip grey science and look at the final bottle.

The recipe for a yellow science bottle

The recipe for a yellow science bottle

Yellow science juice takes a battery, 3 purple circuit boards, a speed module (whatever that is) 30 units of copper cable, and a battery. Unlike the other items in this list, yellow science bottles consume more copper than iron.

The battery looks like your typical D-Cell battery, but it takes an iron plate and a copper plate. If we stick by my rule that we’re supposedly using ALL the raw materials, then the casing for this battery is 50lbs of metal. Inside of that is 20 “units” of acid, and we don’t have a good way to determine how much that might be.

So the battery is made out of 50 lbs of metal, which would suggest it’s enormous. But the icon says it’s very small. And it’s used by your flying robots, which wouldn’t really work if the batteries were really big. Let’s split the difference and say the batteries are like lightweight car batteries.

So yellow science contains 2,200 lbs of iron, 4,225 lbs of copper, 10 lbs of plastic, and 4 lbs of acid. Total payload: 6,439 lbs.

Adding it All Up

Conveyor belts carry all the different SCIENCE(!)  bottles to the dome-shaped labs, where they are consumed.

Conveyor belts carry all the different SCIENCE(!) bottles to the dome-shaped labs, where they are consumed.

Like I said earlier, these bottles are consumed by science labs. I don’t know if there’s a black hole in the center of a science lab, or what the deal is. They just vanish.

Adding up all of the bottles we’ve looked at[10] their total combined weight comes to 9,493.5 lbs, or just short of 5 tons.

One late-game technology is the logistic network, which lets you set up a system to have flying robots move material around your base according to rules you set up. It lets you move things without needing to run conveyor belts, which is good because this late in the game your base is already blanketed in conveyors and it’s really hard to add more. Logics robots aren’t useful for bulk deliveries (they could never deliver copper and iron plates fast enough to be useful) they’re really useful for transporting rare or exotic things near the end of the supply chain.
To unlock this technology you need 150 of each kind of bottle. This means you’re going to feed 1,424,025 lbs (645,928kg) of stuff into the science labs. That’s about 1.7 times the maximum takeoff mass of a Boeing 747. Even if you don’t buy the idea that that much mass ends up in the bottle, your base still consumes that much, one way or another. Either it ends up in the bottle or it ends up as a waste product never depicted in the game.

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posted by [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll at 09:55am on 28/05/2017
History question: does anyone remember the dates of the 1979 King Tut exhibit in Toronto? Aside from the year?
posted by [syndicated profile] johndcook_feed at 01:24pm on 28/05/2017

Posted by John

From Paul Phillips:

Mashup of Saunders Mac Lane’s quip “Adjoint functors arise everywhere” and Haley Joel Osment’s famous line from Sixth Sense.

RelatedApplied category theory

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
posted by [syndicated profile] fictionmachine_feed at 12:42pm on 28/05/2017

Posted by Grant Watson

Actor Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) returns home to his family estate after almost two decades in America. When a gypsy festival comes to town he sees it as an excuse to woo local woman Gwen Conlyfe (Evelyn Ankers), but a late night encounter with a wolf in the woods sees Talbot injured before he beats it violently to death. The following morning a local gypsy (Bela Lugosi) is found dead in the woods, with Talbot the immediate suspect.

The Wolf Man, released all the way back in 1941 and directed by George Waggner, is a hugely influential film. It was not Hollywood’s first mainstream werewolf movie – that would be Werewolf of London from six years earlier – but it and its sequels went a long way to establishing the widely accepted lore of how werewolves develop and how they are killed in society’s popular memory. You can see its influence in the likes of An American Werewolf in London and The Howling (both 1981).

The huge shadow that The Wolf Man casts over Hollywood horror cinema actually causes it quite a few problems in the 21st century. We know its surprises now. We are overly familiar with its story and its tropes. Back in 1941 it probably carried quite a lot of suspense. In 2017 we sort of drum our fingers waiting for the inevitable. Appreciating the film within its historical context allows one to admire The Wolf Man, but I am not altogether certain how entertaining it is any more. It is worth watching to see the origin of all of those werewolf movie traditions, but as a horror picture in its own right it has aged almost to the point of being a little tedious.

Lon Chaney may star as the titular Wolf Man, but he does not entirely convince. In many scenes he seems to have walked onto the soundstage from the wrong film. He is surrounded by some great actors, however notably Claude Rains as Talbot’s warm and caring father and Bela Lugosi in fine form as a gypsy whose actions curse the younger Talbot to become the wolf. Evelyn Ankers also delivers a fairly strong and engaging performance. Together they have the unfortunate result of throwing Chaney’s less accomplished performance into sharp relief.

The film boasts some exceptional prosthetic make-up for the early 1940s, although it never stops to explain why a gypsy transformed into a werewolf simply appears to be a wolf, whereas when Talbot transforms it is still into a humanoid figure – albeit a hairy, fanged one. To its credit the film does not pull its punches when somebody transforms: it is a movie with a body count, and a quite tragic inevitability about what has befallen its characters.

Tragedy really is the key word here. The Wolf Man may be grouped with Universal’s famous monster movies, but in this film film at least it does not feel outrageously horrific. Instead it is simply sad: a man cursed to become a beast, people irrevocably destined to die at his hands, a trusting father led to the most heartbreaking realisation. There is plenty of appreciate and value in The Wolf Man, it simply creaks rather a lot as it goes.


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